Pope calls for end to death penalty worldwide


“I appeal to the consciences of those who govern to reach an international consensus to abolish the death penalty,” he told tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican..

“The commandment ‘You shall not kill’ has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty,” he told the crowd.

The 1.2 billion-strong Catholic church allowed the death penalty in extreme cases for centuries, but the position began to change under the late Pope John Paul, who died in 2005.

The pope added there was now “a growing opposition to the death penalty even for the legitimate defence of society” because modern means existed to “efficiently repress crime without definitively denying the person who committed it the possibility of rehabilitating themselves”.

“All Christians and men of good will are called on to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also to improve prison conditions so that they respect the human dignity of people who have been deprived of their freedom,” he said.

In the past, the pope also denounced life imprisonment, calling it “a hidden death penalty”. He said more should be done to rehabilitate even the most hardened of criminals.

6 thoughts on “Pope calls for end to death penalty worldwide

  1. “You shall not kill” is absolute and valid for the guilty as well as the innocent.

    Another example of man changing the law.

    There are many examples of capital punishment and where it should apply in the old testament..


    • Yes, there are many examples in the old testament as to where it should apply. If the world were now as it was then.

      The world has changed a lot since those times. God has granted humanity the means not only to act horrendously on a large scale, but also to act humanely and compassionately on a much larger scale than ever before.


    • I used to be totally in favour of the death penalty, believing they got what they deserved, but I’ve changed my tune In recent years. And I read somewhere that if you take away a convicted felon’s hope of ever being released, you make that criminal into the most dangerous. Take away all hope and what have you left?

      God changes hearts if you allow Him to. We’ll either soften in time, or our hearts will harden. Soften my heart, Lord.


  2. I’m on his side concerning rehabilitation, but I know many aren’t. When people are in revulsion about some horrendous crime, I hear “Bring back the death penalty!” quite a lot.

    I am also on his side re an address he gave on the feast of the Guardian Angels, reflecting on this divine presence in our lives, describing them as God’s ambassadors who accompany each one of us.

    For those of us who thank God for blessings, not an intermediary, we might consider the last time we stirred a cup of tea.The spoon that did it was not the instigator, it was wielded by the hand. And the hand and other intermediaries were all obeying the brain.

    I can’t envisage the process reversed, as if the spoon or the hand would influence the brain. Or intermediaries, as advocates, influence God. I am too Protestant for that! But I can be thankful that I have a spoon, and that my hand obeys my brain. But no matter what blessings we receive or where we think they’ve come from, we can be thankful for any intermediaries as well as to the Source.

    Jesus too seems to be with the Pope on this. He said “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”


    • Hey Strewth,

      There was a bit of a trend in the 70’s /80 ‘s (starting in the USA) that rehab doesn’t work that the only solution was harsh deterrent punishment.

      And although the criminal justice system has made some moves towards a more therapeutic model the “harsh punishment” notion still resonates with some


      • Yes, I know that all can’t be rehabilitated. I know that negative reinforcement is sometimes effective, just as a smack can help a child understand wrong from right. I know that positive reinforcement can work miracles.

        But the death sentence is still wrong. I recently watched a video of the deeply remorseful prosecutor who sentenced an innocent man to death. Troy Davis was finally executed in 2011, after 20 years of appeals, for a murder committed in America. He didn’t do it. There was proven false evidence at his original trial, and at each appeal.

        Can you imagine?


        That case doesn’t stand alone. Australia has wrongly executed a few, and would have more if the death penalty hadn’t been removed – eg Lindy Chamberlain.

        As far as those rightly convicted, I personally knew a social worker who was committed to a life of helping the poor. He had murdered his mother. He did anger management training in jail, and was later let out on day release to do university studies in social work. He was well respected, never tried to hide his past. There but for the grace of God go any of us.


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